Keeping your child safe in the car

Road injuries are the leading cause of preventable death and injury to children in the U.S. Using the appropriate car seat – correctly – decreases the risk of death or serious injury by more than 70%. Here are some tips to help you keep your children safe on the road:

  • Stay in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible. Refer to your owner’s manual for weight and height limits specific to your car seat. However, keep in mind that S.C. state law requires children 2 years and younger to ride in a rear-facing car seat.
  • Stay in a forward-facing car seat as long as possible. Once a child graduates to a forward-facing car seat, the child should use the car seat until the child reaches the weight and height limits of the seat. Some car seats are approved for children even up to 65 pounds or more. Refer to your instruction manual for information about your specific car seat.
  • Use a booster seat until the child is 4 feet, 9 inches tall or until the shoulder belt and lap belt fit appropriately. The shoulder belt fits appropriately when it crosses the shoulder and the middle of the chest without crossing the side of the neck or throat. The lap belt should cross the thighs, not the belly.
  • Never use a belt positioning device.  These devices do not meet safety standards and can damage the seat belt.
  • Keep kids in the back: The back seat is the safest seat in the car. All children should ride in the back seat at least until the age of 13.
  • Remove winter coats. Thick coats prevent car seats and seat belts from working properly.
  • Talk to an expert. Safe KidsTM Upstate, part of Prisma Health Children’s Hospital–Upstate, offers free car seat safety checks at locations throughout the Upstate. You can schedule your safety check by calling 864-454-1109 or by visiting safekidsupstate.org.

Ryan Hensley, MD, is a pediatrician with Pediatric Associates–Easley & Powdersville. Learn more about Pediatric Associates–Easley & Powdersville or find another Prisma Health Children’s Hospital–Upstate pediatrician near your work or home at ghschildrens.org/pediatricians. You also can call 1-844-447-3627 for help connecting with a pediatrician.

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